How to be a happier person at work


Penelope Trunk once wrote on her career blog that if you want to be happier at work, have a shorter commute.

I read somewhere that the average commute in Johannesburg is around 45 minutes. Mine usually 40 – 45 minutes long.

That feels about right although I hear many stories of commutes being much longer too.

A few weeks ago I was driving to work and I realised that I was actually happier at work due to making my commute a pleasant part of my day instead of something to dread due to these five things I’ve put into place:

1. Choose the times you travel

I realise that not every job is flexible. I, myself, worked in a terribly inflexible job for just over a year. However, if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get anywhere so see if you have flexible work times available so that you can travel to and from work at a more convenient time, traffic-wise, for you.

2. Use your commute for audio books

I recommend that you don’t only listen to music or talk radio. Even if you only listen to an audio book in the mornings or afternoons, you can get through most books in two weeks (about 7.5 hours). My rhythm is to listen to a book in the mornings and a podcast in the afternoons, except for Fridays which are reserved for listening to the Happier Podcast 🙂

3. Stop for special pleasures

I’m not someone who would ever swing through a drive-thru for a coffee (or tea) but I do stop for photos. I leave an extra 10 – 15 minutes especially so that I have time to pull over and take pictures of autumn leaves, winter branches or the jacarandas. When I do stop, I’m always glad I took the time to metaphorically smell the roses.

4. Be intentional about your route

I love that we have clear seasons in Johannesburg and I choose the route I drive based on how pretty it is. I figure what’s 5 minutes here or there if I’m having fun?! So I choose beautiful leafy suburbs to drive through  or routes that have great autumn leaves or jacaranda trees. Sound crazy? Maybe, but I’m happier when I do.

5. Create buffer time

As I mentioned in 3 and at the start of the blog, my commute is about 40 minutes but I aim to leave an hour just in case there’s an accident or bad traffic. I had to train myself to think this way because my natural bend is to do things until the last possible minute; now I tell myself I can listen to my book or podcast 🙂 I can’t tell you how nice it is to arrive at places, finish listening to a segment if I need, or calmly pack up my work things instead of rushing into the building to a meeting.

Do you have any tips for a happier commute?

How long is your commute?

PS I’m always surprised when I ask people and they say, “it’s 15 minutes but in the traffic it’s an hour” because when are you actually going to work when it’s 15 minutes? 4 am in the morning?!)

{living intentionally} Intentional friendship update, one year later


At our last book club lunch last year, one of the members said, “we all just want to connect with another human being”. So true.

For years I almost didn’t want to admit to myself that I actually wanted to have friendships because it seemed like no-one else was talking this way and it felt…too vulnerable.

But I’ve gotten over that and now I freely admit that I want, and need, good friendships.

I also used to bemoan the fact that the organising/ logistics to get together seemed to lie with me, but I’m also over that, due to two things:

  1. D told me I need only do what I’m comfortable doing. This might seem like an obvious thing to some of you but I’m an enneagram 1 (we feel like it’s our job in the world to fix anything that is broken) and an upholder (friendship is important to me therefore I need to put systems in my life to support that) so it has always felt like I was responsible for everything.
  2. I actually largely prefer to organise things because I feel in control of things more 😉

Last year I wrote about what I was doing to create intentional friendships in my life as an upholder, and how each of the other Four Tendencies types would do this too. You can read that post here.

To comment from an upholder perspective again, we work best with the strategies of scheduling, monitoring, clarity and pairing.

Clarity – I am clear on my comfort levels and how much I want to try to pursue/ “open the door” before calling it quits and letting things just flow. I’m also clear about what a life-giving friendship means to me.

Scheduling – this strategy has worked so beautifully over the last year. Our book club meets on the last Saturday of every month, and I have 5 standing friend dates every month. Of course this doesn’t work with everyone every month but it sort of evens out so that I have good 1:1 connection time with about 5 – 6 friends, because I also have some other friends who I have again scheduled once every 2 – 3 months. I realise this sounds terribly unspontaneous, but as Gretchen Rubin says, “something that can happen anytime often happens at no time”. Here’s where I “go with the flow”  – I let cancellations and such happen, and somehow at the end of the month, I find I’ve still had my 5 – 6 friend connections. It’s weird and wonderful all at the same time.

Monitoring – I still keep my friend spreadsheet and diligently update it at the end of every month, and then add friends to next month’s goals to keep it all ticking over. Try it, even if you don’t use an actual spreadsheet. You could have a list in your bullet journal with a date next to each friend’s name.

Pairing – I really only use pairing in a couple of instances. When I see clients in Pretoria, I always contact a Pretoria friend to see if she’s available to have lunch after my meeting. And I have a client in a part of Joburg whose offices are near another friend’s workplace. I always just reach out and ask if she’s available. What’s the worse that can happen? They’re busy but at least you’ve asked and they know you’ve reached out.

If you’d like to understand better how to harness your tendency with regards to your friendships, please join me for my next workshop, coach with me or take Gretchen’s deep dive course?

How are your friendships going? Are you happy with them?

The thing that delighted me most last year was this: I met a friend for lunch and she said, “let’s eat quickly. I know you like to walk and take pictures so I’ve planned a walk for us.” Well, that was just magnificent!

{time} Your ideal weekend

On a Monday a couple of weeks ago, a colleague at work asked me how my weekend was, as you do, and I said, “it was a really great weekend”.

“Oh,” they said, “tell me more”.

And then I realised that nothing out of the ordinary had happened.

I’d had a friend date on the Friday afternoon, hosted my kids’ book club, gone to Zumba and church, did some pottering around the house and read a book.

Kind-of standard things for me, but a really great weekend I realised because it had MY three ideal elements in the correct ratios.

  1. People/ out and about stuff
  2. Productivity
  3. Relaxation

It got me thinking that having a great weekend is completely within my control because I can control all of those components.

I’d been feeling a bit blah lately and when Dion and I unpacked my feelings, I realised I hadn’t had enough people time. As an extrovert, I’m energised by spending time with people.

My happy number is about 5 – 6 friend dates every month. Book club happens automatically and my friend dates are set up on a schedule, but when they get cancelled, I’m not upset (life happens) but I feel it later in this low energy state. What I need to do is then possibly reach out and just connect with a friend by phone.

We were at book club recently when one of our introvert members explained to two of us extroverts that it’s nothing personal but they just don’t feel the need to spend time with people. I must say, I was a bit surprised but I had an aha moment about friendship right there and then.

Over to you.

What does your ideal weekend look like? And are you an introvert or an extrovert? How does this play out in your weekend plans?

Your favourite posts of 2018

This is one of my favourite posts to do every year. I love having the statistics; I just dread the process of drudging through and compiling it all 🙂

Some fun facts:

Over the last 365 days, we’ve had nearly 900 000 visits from 150 000 people.

Jan

Word of the year recap and my 2018 word

Organising Queen’s best books of 2017

How I read 120 books last year  (this post is my most popular post of the entire year – yes, I’m shocked)

Feb

3 ways to Konmari your digital life

What I want less of this year

On being moderate with fitness

March

What went well in February?

The book that changed how I view nature

Quarterly recap of my word of the year

April

Let’s talk about groceries and spending

How is your phone changing you?

What freedom means to me

May

You have more than enough time

Groceries experiment – feedback

What I’m bullet journaling these days

At this point in the year, I decided to do a little experiment. You see, I took the Deep Dive into the Four Tendencies course and the concept of Upholder Tightening really hit home.

Blogging twice a week was me being in the same spiral without considering if it was still what I wanted to do or if it was good for me.

I didn’t make any big announcement; I just quietly went from a Mon and Thurs posting schedule to Wednesdays. To date, not one person has said anything about this.

Because of the reduction in posts, these are the favourite post of the month from June.

June

What are your nos with books?

July

Are you a time pessimist?

Aug

My annual birthday review

Sept

Lovely limitations (if you’ve heard The Nester on podcasts lately, she has mentioned it a few times too)

Oct

On setting reading goals

November

Introducing my 2019 diary

December 

What I learned by writing every day in November

Were there any posts that surprised you? (there were for me – the book ones!) I’m also always surprised that the ones I like writing the most are not the most popular ones, but that’s par for the course.

Which was your favourite? What is your favourite type of post to read?

Lovely things to do, eat, watch, try in 2019


I made this free printable a few years ago because I like to make a list of lovely things to do when I have a birthday.

It’s like a goals list, but super fun ones 🙂

Some of you will say that all goals should be fun; I disagree because we all know there are things you should do as part of being a grownup that aren’t necessarily fun (dental appointments, I’m looking at you!).

I didn’t get around to make my lovely things list in August but I’m going to do it with a twist for next year.

  • Lovely things to do read this year
  • 19 lovely things to do in 2019

Ideas for you:

  • lovely things to watch this year (if you’re a movie/ TV person – I am not)
  • lovely places to eat at this year (if you like to try new restaurants – I don’t like new restaurants but I do like working my way through some menus…)
  • lovely things to cook this year (I could get behind this idea)
  • lovely friends to see this year
  • your choice

Have fun with it, friends.

I’ve got good news – I’ve made these 7 printables and they’re ready for you to download here.

Care to share your lists? Please tag me on Instagram and tell your friends to sign up for their set of lovely lists too.

{2018 Annual review} What went well this year?

This is part one of my annual review, where I start with the question I always use:

What went well this year?

  • I read a lot of books (the year is not over and I think I’ll end on around 110). In fact, I read more than I thought I would read, especially since my Goodreads goal was only 80. Many of them were great books, but that’s another post.
  • Book club was so much fun this year. This is year two for us and I think we’ve ironed out almost all of the logistical issues around choosing books, deciding on hosting, bringing eats, and so forth.
  • I had great work rhythms. I should write a post about my end-of-week work routines, but it’s in my Instagram Story highlights if you want to take a look. I’d venture to say if I didn’t have good work habits, things could have been even more overwhelming.

  • The kids were happy at school and with their teachers, and they both still love being active and reading. I also started a kids book club which has been one of the most fun things I’ve done this year.
  • We had 3 family holidays which is perfect. Dion and I would obviously prefer 4; – in 2014, we managed to go on 4 holidays and that was the absolute perfect rhythm…. and was also the last year we didn’t have kids in Big School.
  •  I did awesome with my sleep. This is a strange thing to put down but it’s something to celebrate for a night owl like me. I’ve been tracking my sleep since 2015 and it’s now a reliable 7 hrs 40 ish with good, uninterrupted, restful slumber.
  • I had a great week of prayer in October. Prayers that were answered (that I know about) – jobs!
  • I did all my 18 in 2018 goals. I did scrape in those last two but there you go.

  • I’m up to date with my photos. I also devised a system for school (see Instagram Story highlights) and holiday photos. A project for holiday photos will go onto my 19 in 2019 list because I’m only up to 2017 with regard to holiday photo printing.
  • I took an Enneagram coaching course which was amazingly insightful and best of all, I think it brought me closer to God.
  • I also took the Four Tendencies deep dive course which was so much fun I will be taking my accreditation early next year to run live, in-person workshops. Isn’t that fun? If you’re local I’d love to have you.
  • As far as the house is concerned, we painted three of our rooms upstairs, one of them navy. We also bought two new couches and a new armchair (these were so overdue – we replaced furniture we’d had for 15 years, and we received those as hand-me-downs from an uncle who was upgrading). And we put in a shower in the kids’ bathroom which was probably the best money decision since we now have our own bathroom completely to ourselves again. It’s hard to believe we’ve already been in this house 2.5 years.
  • I exceeded my personal savings goal (I just throw a stretch number out at the beginning of the year and see if I can hit it).

  • My system for tending close friendships is also working great. This is also for another post.
  • I took more than 60 photowalks this year and many drives to look at autumn leaves, winter branches or jacaranda trees.
  • I also decluttered another big stash of books I don’t plan to read and donated those to our local library, I decluttered bags, shoes and scarves (but I know this is ongoing) and gave away more than 60 notebooks. I was not allowed to buy more than 10 – readers, I confess I failed!
  • I put myself out there and ran two blog projects – Spring into Organising and this current project, to write for 15 minutes every day in November.
  • My core is stronger because I’ve now been doing my barre180 class for 16 months.

Over to you.

What went well in your life this year?

What I learned through writing every day in November

Many of you know that I chat to Beth, my accountability partner and friend, every week.

On Thursday 1 November, I’d only completed my personal goals from the previous week and no blog goals, which all involved writing.

On a whim, I mentioned to Beth that I wondered if I could still actually write every day. And right there and then, I decided to try.

You see years ago, for five years in a row, I blogged 324 or more times every year. For two of those years, I blogged every single day.

Also, here on Organising Queen, I’ve twice participated in the 31 days series – once I wrote about easy organising solutions, and the other time I wrote about having enough time.

It is never hard for me to write, especially if I know what I want to write about, so I thought I’d give it a bash again.

So what did I do differently and what have I learned?

  1. I set two daily reminders in my phone – one at 6 pm and another from 8 – 8.30 to come write. The 6pm reminder was to start thinking about what I want to write about. And the 8pm reminder was to actually sit down and write.
  2. I used a habits page (I have no idea where I found it – I’d printed off a whole year long ago and not used all of the monthly pages) to cross off my progress daily. I also recorded my progress on my Instagram stories every 3 – 5 days, or thereabouts.
  3. I was conscious about my “difficult days” – weekends when I’m too relaxed, and Tuesday nights when I’m exhausted from my two dance classes, and so I made sure to have something easy to write about on those days. This was a great idea.
  4. I brainstormed some topics at the start of the month. I ended up with 17 topics but as is often the case, I’ve since deleted about 5 that sounded far too boring even to me, and added a couple of others. I scanned my book notes from recent non-fiction I’ve read to see if there was anything I really wanted to blog about.
  5. The point was just to write, not to create beautiful blog posts. Some nights I just wrote; most of them I also added photos and tags for a blog post. Having my standards low meant that I actually got things done instead of obsessing about perfection.

A few notes:

I’m an Upholder on Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework so strategies that work REALLY well for me are clarity, scheduling, pairing and monitoring.

Clarity – I very clearly defined what “success” on this project would look like – actual writing on a keyboard for 15 minutes, and having my blog post ideas list

Scheduling – reminders in my phone

Pairing – I knew that at 6pm I’d be home from work but low energy, so the first reminder would go off while I was cooking or otherwise having a cup of tea with the kids (I could start thinking about my topic) and the second reminder was just after the kids went to bed (well, in theory)

Monitoring – I was checking off my list of blog post ideas as I completed writing, and also the occasional posting to Instagram stories, and my weekly accountability chat with Beth.

Any upholders out there? Did my approach resonate with you too?

How about the other tendencies? What would your approach have been for creating this new habit.

You can do the same for any habit you want to create either now or in the new year. I will help you clarify your tendency, and put structures in place during our coaching session.

Please contact me as soon as possible to schedule your coaching session as I only coach a limited number of sessions weekly.

Introducing my 2019 diary

my current diary

When I started looking for a 2019 diary, I fully intended to either get my current diary again, or go for a Moleskine or Legami weekly diary planner as I’ve had in previous years.

But alas, my current diary format was only available in a cover that did not feel very smooth to touch. I’m a very tactile person and I like a diary that feels good to touch, or at least doesn’t irritate me.

I’d just about eliminated everything and was ready to order my Moleskine online as I didn’t see any Legami diaries in store when something quite serendipitous happened.

Typo had a sale and I had a voucher!

I’d not been intending to buy a Typo diary because the standard weekly diaries have no lines (I need lines!) but when I went into the store, I saw 5 weekly diaries left (2 different covers) at 50% off, and my decision was made.

They were not my first choice but as I mentioned before, they did have my non-negotiables:

  • pretty cover that is lovely to touch
  • weekly format – horizontal preferably
  • lines and big enough for my handwriting
  • month to view with notes paper

And since I’m such a practical person, I couldn’t justify spending double that on another diary when this would work perfectly well.

Interestingly, once I brought my diary home, I now love it and can’t wait to start using it 🙂 It’s actually a 2018-2019 diary so I could technically start using it right now. If you’re curious, I’ll use the extra pages in the front for my bullet journal lists.

Here are some photos if you’d like to see inside:

Do you have your 2019 diary yet? And have you declared and scheduled your planning day?

Book bossy and my October reads

I learned of a delightful  little phrase, “book bossy” this month.

It turns out I am book bossy.

Friends, I was quite taken aback because I don’t see this book bossiness as a negative at all; it’s just who I am. I am a person who is passionate about books and reading.

And honestly, I’m only book bossy when I think it may matter to you too. There are some friends I never talk books with; granted, these are probably not my deepest friendships 😉

I am book bossy when I really love a book and want to press it into everyone’s hands (or ears), or because it is universally loved. Or because I know that the person will, in fact, love the book.

So in honour of my book bossiness, these are some books I am decidedly and unashamedly book bossy about:

The happiness project – Gretchen Rubin

Perfect as we go into the new year. I plan to listen to it in January again – it’s just the perfect start to a new year, or even around your birthday.

Boundaries – Cloud/ Townsend

Still the best book on boundaries out there.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

Look on my sidebar. I’ve written many posts and it is truly life-changing.

The Four Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

Listen, read and then if you’re intrigued like I was, take her deep dive course too. Or come coach with me and I will take you through it.

And now, let me show you all the books I read in October, among them the book that taught me about my book bossiness.

I read four fiction and five non-fiction; 0 physical books (!), 6 Kindle and 3 Audible.

My favourite fiction read was the Cathy Kelly – Secrets of a Happy Marriage.

I have three favourite non-fiction reads to talk about. It’s actually a pity of sorts that I read them all in the same month; they each deserve their space in the spotlight.

Off the clock – Laura Vanderkam‘s new release. I enjoyed this book so much and am planning to write a few blogs about it. It’s more philosophical than her previous books, and is my favourite by far.

Dream more – Dolly Parton. This was a short read and I actually listened on audio. It was so fun to hear Dolly singing a verse here and there. I believe that a memoir-ish book needs to make you like the person more than you did before, and this one did. She is utterly delightful and I am so impressed with her work ethic and attitude towards life.

I’d rather be reading – Anne Bogel. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did because (confession!) I don’t usually like books about books as I find them either too cheesy or trying to be too clever. This one was neither. It was relatable and endearing, and I found myself wanting to either wake my husband to share things with him, or Instastory everything and put polls in my stories to talk about it all.

What was your favourite fiction, and non-fiction (if you read – I realise more and more that I’m in the minority with my 40% on average non-fiction reads)?

And more important, are you book bossy?

Lovely limitations

Many years ago, The Nester wrote a 31-day series on lovely limitations.

To be honest, I had never thought of limitations as lovely before that but I’ve since come to see the beauty of having boundaries – physical, time-bound, and digital limitations.

They force you to be more creative with what you have, and for an upholder like me, I love having some self-imposed rules.

Physical

If you have a basket to store magazines, the basket is your boundary. Ideally (and something I LOVE) is using the physical boundary to help me make decisions to declutter. When the basket is too small for the magazines, I declutter til they fit again.

I’m definitely better about this in some areas than others – I have small bathroom and kitchen cabinets so I see it as a goal to see how little I can get away with keeping, especially for consumables like toiletries and food.

I’m always working on mugs and glasses 😉

Some ideas for physical boundaries in the home? Baskets, trays, bowls, plastic containers. If you’re not yet following me on Instagram, check out the page anyway because I share many on-the-go solutions in my very own home. And I save many of them in my highlights (the circles under my bio).

Time-bound

I do something with meetings which is a lovely limitation. If I have a meeting in an hour’s time, I might make a meeting with a new client in the hour before that to keep us both on track and so that I have a legit reason to leave a meeting promptly. I’m an extrovert so it’s very easy for me to get chatty.

You can do this with personal events too. Make a tea date with a friend that has a hard end time. I find that I’m much more likely to want to keep up with recurring dates if my dates are 1.5 – 2 hours in length.

Digital

This happened purely by chance. I had an iPhone with only 16 GB of storage space. Because it was so limited, I had to delete photos all the time. It was annoying at first but I loved cultivating the habit of the Daily Delete (I first learned of this tip from Becky Higgins). I’ve since upgraded to 64GB of storage but I still do the daily delete and remove my photos every month. It’s a great habit to prevent overwhelm.

I mentioned my upholder tendency above. I made myself a rule that I have to read 4 books from my Kindle every month but I usually read more than 4 Kindle books. I find that that helps to keep my buying of books under control. I automatically stop buying unless I’m reading enough. For the record, up to the end of August, 64% of the books I’ve read have been on Kindle (41 books).

Where do you need some lovely limitations in your home, on your schedule or digitally?

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